Monday, February 20, 2017
My Account  | Login
Nashua-BoireFieldAirport;35.0;;2017-02-20 19:38:46
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Merrimack High School senior Brent Whitney helps Mary Henault turn a bowl with a lathe Wednesday, June 1, 2011, in the school's wood shop. Henault is a paraprofessional supervising different student in a woods class.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Merrimack High School senior Brent Whitney shows some of the wooden bowls and wind chimes he has turned in his woods class.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Merrimack High School senior Brent Whitney turns a bowl with a lathe Wednesday, June 1, 2011, in the school's wood shop. Whitney is taking an independent study, helping students shape wooden bowls as part of their advanced woods class.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Merrimack senior has woodworking talent

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every year The Telegraph profiles a graduating senior from various high schools in our coverage area. This is one of a series of such profiles that are being published in recent weeks.

MERRIMACK – Brent Whitney has left his mark on Merrimack High School, and it is traced with sawdust.

Whitney, 18, has met with success in the classroom and on the running track. But, as he prepares to don his cap and gown this weekend, it’s the school wood shop that he has turned into a second home.

Between classes and after school, Whitney has spent much of his free time in the shop – as much as four hours a day – crafting some of the school’s finest wood pieces and helping others to do the same, teachers lauded earlier this month.

“He has this beautiful touch. ... Some students just have this natural ability,” said Phil Carle, the school’s technology education teacher, as he held up one of Whitney’s cedar bowls.

“It’s just something I’ve always liked doing,” said Whitney, who also runs on the school’s cross-country and indoor track teams. “It’s a good feeling to make things with your own hands.”

From ice cream scoops to candlesticks to wood chimes, Whitney, who grew up making shelves with his father, has mastered some of the school’s most challenging projects. He has sold pieces to residents across town, and even some teachers have come seeking his wares.

Among the items he’s crafted over the years, one project stands out from the rest, Whitney said this month, reviewing his work catalogue.

Last year, a memorial tree, first planted in 1979 in honor of a 7-year-old drowning victim, had grown too large for its spot, and it threatened to damage the Merrimack Public Library, which stood nearby.

So, when it came time to cut down the tree, Carle recruited Whitney and together they used the wood to make a series of bowls that was divided between the family of Jennifer Brown, the drowning victim, and the library.

Some of the bowls are still displayed at the library, while the other pieces still hang around the Browns’ Merrimack home, they said.

“They’re really beautiful. They just did a wonderful job with them,” Mary Ellen Brown, Jennifer’s mother, said this week.

“This project was different from the others,” Whitney added. “There was a reason we were doing it. ... It’s nice to know they can live with it every day.”

As part of an independent study project, Whitney has helped to teach and mentor other woodworking students, providing them instruction and support, Carle said. And in recent months, Whitney has also helped adult learners, volunteering after school hours in Carle’s adult education program.

“It’s one thing for him to be working with his peers, but he’s there lecturing 40- and 50-year-old engineers on technique,” Carle said. “At that point, I knew he had what it takes.”

Moving forward, Whitney plans to continue teaching as an adult, although it will likely be without the wood, he said.

Whitney plans to attend Plymouth State University and earn his certification as a math teacher.

“I’ve always liked math, and I like working with students,” Whitney said. “It’s a good fit.”

But he’ll certainly continue to do some woodworking in his down time. “There are hundreds of shops up there that would love to have a kid around to work.”

“I’ll always do wood work,” he added, a broad smile spreading across his face. “There’s nothing like that feeling you get when you finish a piece, when you feel it in your hands. ... I can’t imagine not having something to work on.”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or